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The Bebop Years (4CD) Box set

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Product details

  • Audio CD (16 Oct. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Delko Music Ltd
  • ASIN: B000051TPD
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,431 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Body And Soul
2. Dinah
3. When Day Is Done
4. Smack
5. I Surrender Dear
See all 22 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Sweet Lorraine
2. My Ideal
3. I Only Have Eyes For You
4. 'S Wonderful
5. I'm In The Mood For Love
See all 22 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Battle Of The Saxes
2. Louise
3. Pick-Up Boys
4. Porgy
5. Uptown Lullaby
See all 23 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. April In Paris
2. Rifftide
3. Stuffy
4. What Is There To Say?
5. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

Coleman Hawkins reached a new level of creativity during the 1940s. This box set focuses on those years, presenting the original master of the tenor sax in a wide variety of settings, including his encounters with young modernists like Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. "The BeBop Years" is another supremely crafted set with 88 tracks and a 56 page booklet containing the full Coleman Hawkins story, rare photographs and discography.


There is a slight problem with the title Coleman Hawkins, the Bebop Years: this long look at Hawkins begins in October 1939, only reaching anything identifiable as the bebop years (Monk's debut on record, as Hawk's sideman, in October 1944) towards the end of disc 3. Looking beyond the vagaries of titling (and the budget price of these proper boxed sets helps one to look further), this is a well-chosen series of snapshots of a tenor giant moving from his absolute pomp ("Body and Soul", 1939) through years of consistently high achievement (early 40s) into the challenge of bop (on the fourth disc are four tracks of the wonderful 1945 sextet featuring Howard McGhee and Oscar Pettiford, plus the Hawkins all-star session with Miles and Max Roach) and finally back to Europe for a post-war reunion of sorts. Hawkins was fiercely competitive, even with old friends like Webster and Eldridge, so there is no slacking off of effort from the frontman. Additionally, one of the most notable developments traced here is a new and uncluttered rhythmic ease. He chose his phrases more carefully, went for contrast and drama with great precision and became the more telling soloist for it. This is a valuable four-CD document, in good sound. --Keith Shadwick

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Nov. 2000
Format: Audio CD
Yet again, Proper have managed to come up with the goods - 4 cds packed with vintage Coleman Hawkins material, 88 fantastic tracks and a well-researched and written 56 page booklet, all for this amazing price. If you're interested in the Hawk, I would definitely suggest you start with this amazing set!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
An astounding value! 15 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is an excellent compilation of Hawkins' work between 1939 and 1949. Most of the selections date from 1943 to 1947 and were recorded for several record labels, including Victor, Bluebird, Okeh, Brunswick, V-Disc, Commodore, Signature, Keynote, Apollo, Savoy, Clef, Regis, Capitol, Aladdin, Joe Davis, and Selmer. Sidemen include Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, Cootie Williams, Count Basie, Art Tatum, Oscar Pettiford, Teddy Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Budd Johnson, Ben Webster, Earl Hines, Don Byas, John Kirby, Jonah Jones, Buck Clayton, Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee, Milt Jackson, Hank Jones, Harry Carney and Miles Davis. As you would expect with such a wide variety of source material, the sound quality varies a bit. However, it ranges from good to excellent and in most cases is on par (or identical:)) with the best previous CD issues of the same music. The set comes with a 56 page booklet that includes a lengthy essay with analysis of each session, several photographs, and a very thorough discography (you can read the complete essay and discography at Proper's website). The essay is good, though it could have used some editing. Also, the photos look like they were duplicated from printed sources. The most important thing, however, is that the music is consistently excellent. These discs show Hawkins at his absolute best, whether in a small group, big band, or solo. For the price the set is an astounding value!
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Prime Forties Recordings From a Tenor Sax Legend 5 Mar. 2001
By Ron Frankl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a magnificent collection of the Forties work of tenor sax great Coleman Hawkins, the father of the jazz saxophone. Much of it has been previously released in bits and pieces, but it has never been collected in a single package, and never with such tremendous sound. The set also includes an informative booklet with a number of rarely-scene photographs.

Hawkins began his performing career as a teenager, backing blues singer Mamie Smith in the early 1920's. Before Hawkins, the saxophone was not a major instrument in jazz, and it was seldom featured as a solo instrument. When Hawkins joined Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra in 1924, that began to change. Perhaps inspired by fellow bandmember Louis Armstrong, who spent about a year with Henderson, Hawkins quickly developed his own distinctive style as a soloist. When Armstrong left, Coleman Hawkins became the dominant soloist with the Henderson band, a position he held until 1934. He set the standard for the jazz saxophonist during the first part of the Swing era, and he strongly influenced such other figures as Ben Webster, Benny Carter, Chu Berry and many others. After a productive five-year stay in Europe, Hawkins returned to the U.S. and started his own group in 1939. One of his first records was the ballad "Body and Soul," which became a major pop hit and remains one of the most memorable recordings in jazz history. It set a standard for jazz improvisation that has seldom been matched.

"Body and Soul" first song in this boxed set, and really doesn't belong with the other recordings here, which cover the period 1943-1947. Hawkins' big band failed within a year, and he soon began working with the smaller groups that make up the bulk of these recordings. He worked for a series of small New York-based record companies, both as a leader and a sideman. During this period, the bebop movement began to make inroads into the New York jazz scene. Hawkins was as skilled and schooled as any musician in jazz, and he quickly grasped the innovative ideas that the beboppers were offering in their music. Even though he never fully embraced bebop in his own playing, he often worked with its rising young stars, such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Howard McGhee, Fats Navarro and others. Working with these new talents reinvigorated the middle-aged Hawkins, and these are some of the finest recordings of his long career. He also influenced a new generation of saxophonists such as Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins.

The title of this set is a little misleading; these recordings are more swing than bebop. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful collection that every jazz fan should own. Too often overlooked at the start of the 21st century, Coleman Hawkins was one of the titans of jazz, and this is his finest work. Proper Records, an English label, has one again done a terrific job of compiling the work of an under-appreciated artist, and this set deserves much praise.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Nobody .... 9 Jun. 2010
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
... epitomizes the history of jazz better than Coleman Hawkins, from raggedy blues/vaudeville to bebop and a little beyond. Born in 1904, Hawkins jumped school in Kansas City in 1922 to join Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds on tour to Chicago. Through the late 20s and early 30s, Hawkins was the boss tenor sax in the very popular Fletcher Henderson swing band. Then he spent some five years in Europe, building an enormous popularity for himself there as well as a fervent audience for jazz that has endured to our own times. In 1939, he returned more or less permanently to the USA, and that's where this four-CD survey of his recordings during "The Bebop Years" begins.

Coleman had been a highly reputed journeyman jazzman for two decades when the first track in this box set, Body and Soul, was recorded by RCA in October, 1939. The final track on the fourth disk, Bah-U-Bah, was recorded in Paris, rehearsing for a European tour, in December, 1949. So "The Bebop Years" is not only a compendium of the Hawk's finest sessions -- 88 of them -- over a ten-year period, but also a survey of the evolution of jazz from a "high-toned low-class popular" music to the artistic heights that Hawkins shared with Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Monk, Gillespie, Gordon, and other progressive beboppers. The sax was, of course, the master instrument of the era, and it was Hawkins who first proved what the sax could offer. Hawkins had incredible chops, a rich rolling tone especially in his lower register on ballads, and it was on ballads that he sounded most harmonically adventuresome and original. But Hawk never totally abandoned his swing-era roots. He could play 'hot' or 'sweet' but 'cool' was not in him, and the 50's became a decade of neglect and disappointment for him. Unlike some younger beboppers, nevertheless, Hawkins was robust even to enjoy a revival in the late 50s and early 60s. But the 'avant-garde' of free jazz held no appeal for him. To put it bluntly, he gave up and drank himself to death at age 66 in 1969. The superb film "Round Midnight", starring Dexter Gordon and directed by Bernard Tavernier, depicts the last years of a musician who might well have been Coleman Hawkins.

The remastering of the assorted sessions, some in studios and some live, in this Properbox is extraordinarily clear and realistic. This is a fantastic bargain, a must-have for jazz lovers.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
one major omission 24 July 2008
By JG - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I know I am being picky but there is one MAJOR omission. The session with
trumpeter Fats Navarro that produced the great Half Step Down Please.
Otherwise this is a wonderful collection of a more modern sounding Hawkins. At least they have the Dizzy stuff. Rember Hawkins was on the first bebop recordings and I also believe Monks first session.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great overview of his early prime years 20 Jan. 2006
By kfer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I would recommend this for anyone wanting to get an overview of Hawk's playing from his early prime years. His playing reached a peak in '38 and as far as I can tell pretty much stayed there until his death in the '60s. This contains his legendary recording 'Body and Soul' from '38 and goes to '49.

For comparison I would recommend also getting "The Lester Young Story" also a great 4CD set from Proper covering the same time period.
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